Tory chairman Grant Shapps could be moving to neutralise nascent plots against him from the Tory backbenches. In the wake of his bingo poster disaster, Scrapbookreported claims of “a wave of PR and press shit” headed Shapps’ way from right-wingers who “want a better chairman before 2015″.
Lo and behold …
Grant Shapps spotted having dinner with some "Awkward Squad" Tory MPs in the Red Lion pub. Makes a change from Nandos for him.
Even Baroness Warsi — who scowled with jealousy at Tory conference (VIDEO) after Shapps succeeded her as party chair – has joinedattempts to shore him up:
“I think some of the attacks on Grant Shapps have been incredibly unfair because he’s been made to carry the can of decisions which probably involved a whole load of other people before that poster came out.”
Despite her track record of pontificating on morality, Sayeeda Warsi found herself stumped yesterday when asked about Iran. The peer claimed that she was “not enough of a military expert” to have an opinion on nuking Tehran without warning:
Lord Wigley: My Lords, are there any circumstances whatever where a first strike with nuclear weapons could be morally justifiable?
Baroness Warsi: I am not enough of a military expert
Finding herself in the Foreign Office after being sacked by Cameron as Tory chairman in September, perhaps Warsi will find something she is good at eventually.
It didn’t take long for the Conservative Party conference to depart from the script yesterday, with sacked Tory chair Sayeeda Warsi clearly scowling as she watched her successor Grant Shapps open proceedings.
The September reshuffle prompted the undignified spectacle of Warsi publicly begging to keep her job after being promoted beyond her abilities. Rather than positioning the customary reaction shot camera right under her nose, sneaky BBC producers caught a glimpse of her real feelings at being forced to watch Shapps strut the stage.
Can any lip readers out there tell us what she mouths to her husband at the end of the clip? Please get in touch.
Could there be a better time for Jeremy Hunt to quit than the day after his appearance at the Leveson Inquiry on Thursday? With Britain scheduled to spend a four-day bank holiday weekend distracted by Diamond Jubilee celebrations, this timing could do much to soften the blow to David Cameron.
This theory has been gaining currency in Westminster circles since the evasive testimony of his former special adviser last Thursday. Such a move would mirror the fate of Liam Fox, who attempted to leave the media flat-footed by quitting as defence secretary at 4:10pm on a Friday.
Meanwhile, the expenses scandal which engulfed Sayeeda Warsi this weekend raises the delicious prospect of a double sacking. Liberal Democrat backbencher Bob Russell is alreadybanging the drum for a police investigation:
“There are similarities [to the Lord Hanningfield case],” he said. “I think there’s a prima facie case for this to be looked at by the police.”
You’re in trouble when a convicted fraudster is defending you.
Remaining silent in the face of criticism of his severance pay, one can only assume Chris Huhne is intent on trousering the £17,000 he is officially entitled to after police charges forced him from office.
While we’re not sure that the Scrapbook team hold much sway with the sharp-elbowed member for Eastleigh, perhaps he might listen to the wisdom of his colleauges. Step forward pensions minister Steve Webb:
“People will be shocked to learn that former ministers get these pay-offs even when they have been sacked or left of their own free will … While thousands are losing their jobs, failed ministers get a huge payout on top of their salary as MPs. This can’t go on.”
And surely Chris will remember this broadside from Sayeeda Warsi — he was sharing a platform with her at the time:
“At a time when people across the country are being asked to tighten their belts to deal with Labour’s economic mess, it is unacceptable that the very people responsible, walk away with up to £20,000 each. Forfeiting this pay would be the first step towards accepting their responsibility”
Sayeeda Warsi’s fiction that the Tories fought a full campaign in the Oldham East by-election is in tatters tonight. Michael Crick has published the official figures from Oldham Council, which reveal that the Conservatives spent less than UKIP.
Despite reports that the cabinet had discussed how to help the Liberal Democrats win in Greater Manchester, the Conservative chair was telling anyone who would listen that the Tories took the campaign “extremely seriously”. Scrapbook would enjoy watching her attempt to spin this graph:
But what do you expect when your party leader can’t remember the name of your candidate?
Sayeeda Warsi has called for a “clean campaign” in the upcoming Oldham East by-election. Signing a pledge (not that this has been problematic recently) with candidate Kashif Ali, the Conservative Party chairman said: “After everything that’s happened in Oldham East and Saddleworth, the last thing we need now is underhand behaviour in our election campaign.”
Must be a different Sayeeda Warsi to this one then:
As someone responsible for some of the most vile homophobic leaflets in recent memory, Warsi is absolutely the last person to be getting into the pulpit on campaigning tactics. Materials produced for her 2005 Westminster bid in Dewsbury - which she has never apologised for and were re-used by another candidate in 2007 – said:
Labour has scrapped Section 28, which was introduced by the Conservatives to stop schools promoting alternative sexual lifestyles such as homosexuality to children as young as seven years old.
Labour reduced the age of consent for homosexuality from 18 to 16, allowing schoolchildren to be propositioned for homosexual relationships.
In keeping with this new mood of “clean campaigning”, Scrapbook can only presume a full apology for this disgusting scaremongering will be forthcoming.
In terms of the fight in Oldham, however, It seems Conservative activists in the area would be happy for CCHQ to mount any kind of campaign at all.
Fearing meltdown for Lib Dem colleagues, David Cameron has intervened personally to neuter his own party’s campaign.
Notwithstanding very legitimate concerns around the security of postal voting, Sayeeda Warsi massively overreached herself in suggesting there were three MPs in the House of Commons who owed their victory to electoral fraud. If you haven’t seen it yet, John Sopel’s grilling of the Baroness is well worth a watch.
This episode will further entrench her reputation with some Tories as a gaffe-prone lightweight.